Footprints on Tatooine: Aelan Greenleaf

It was fifteen days into his self-induced exile when he realized what exactly was wrong with his hearing. Since he had arrived, a strange buzzing and hollow sound had been resonating within his ears, and he could not figure out for the life of him what was going on. For two weeks he had lived in an aggravated and irritated state, eardrums reverberating and mind slowly losing bits of sanity.

The fifteenth day, he solved the puzzle. The buzzing, the hollow tingling was not, in reality, a sound at all. It was the complete and utter absence of sound; absence of life. On Coruscant, the world had always been moving, talking, squeaking, beeping, screaming and wailing. During a battle there were lightsabers crashing, blasters blazing, soldiers yelling and the wounded crying. Even in the Temple there were children laughing, Jedi whispering, Masters mumbling in meditation. In the dead heat of the desert, there was nothing. Nothing but the hot wind that blew across the sand dune plains, and the rare distant echo of a bantha or a Tusken raider.

After this realization, his ears didn't hurt anymore.

Now, now he had settled into a semblance of a life, with a rudimentary daily schedule of events that he followed, out of desperation more than anything. He awoke very early, when only the first sun of Tatooine had begun to rise, and the heat had not yet started to warm the ground. For several hours, he practised his katas, running through each and every one by heart and memory, cleansing his body and his mind. After this, the twin suns would both be beginning their ascent into the sky, and he would head inside to prepare his morning meal.

After this, the day would grow hot, and, as much as he hated it, heat was not his friend. Usually he stayed indoors, cleaning and working and meditating. On rare occasions, he would leave to visit Luke on the Lars' moisture farm. He had only done this four times since his arrival two years ago, and since his last true 'visit' over a year ago, Owen did not want him coming back.

"He'll get crazy ideas; he'll want to follow you around the galaxy doing who knows what."

"He's seven months old. I don't think he thinks about much, Owen," he had said, quietly and softly.

The younger man's face had turned slightly red. "How about when he's two? Five? Sixteen? Do you think he'll want to stick around here? No, no, he'll end up just like his father- dead." Owen's eyes had burned with an angry passion.

In that infinitesimal moment, he had wanted so badly to slap the young farmer with every molecule of his body. He wanted to scream, to yell, to tell him that that wouldn't happen. But he didn't know that. And he knew that Owen, in his crude and infantile way, could very well be right. He had left that final time, saying goodbye to the baby that was to him like a his own child. Grandchild, he supposed, in a very roundabout sort of way.

That boy, his 'grandchild', looked more and more like his father every day. The colour of his hair, which had started to come in, was not the same brown as his father, but his eyes, his eyes were the same. When he looked down into Luke's bright blue orbs, it was as if he was peering down into Anakin's soul. The soul of his Padawan, his friend, his brother, his son. The soul of Anakin Skywalker, and not the monstrous Darth Vader that had taken him.

It was his work, now, to watch over the boy, to make sure that Darth Vader would not come looking for the son that he didn't know he had. No harsh words or admonitions from Owen would change that. Today, today he was going to go and see the boy, from afar, like he had so many times before. Watch as he played outside in the sand, unbothered by the intense heat of the twin suns, rolling and running and laughing.

The morning was cool and quiet when he stepped outside, dressed in pants, a shirt, boots and his dark brown cloak. The weapon hooked to his belt, used only for a rare emergency, was no longer the comfortable hilt of his lightsaber; it was the awkward, alien handle of a Type Four blaster. Every time his hand brushed it, an uncomfortable tingle would run up his spine, reminding him of everything that was dead and gone, buried far away from the shifting sands of Tatooine.

He kept walking, walking into the daybreak of his new planet, a planet so far from everything that he had ever knew. Footprints in the sand, footprints that would soon disappear, leaving no trace of the man that had passed there. It was in quiet, pensive moments like these that he would feel so completely alone, forgotten from everything. It was not the fame, nor the publicity, nor the connections or even the battles that he missed; it was the family that he had lost. There were no other Knights to laugh and talk with; there were no longer any younglings to teach and nurture.

There were, quite simply, no other Jedi at all.

He kept walking through the sand, leaving his temporary footprints trailing behind him. On the horizon was the moisture farm, where a toddler was waking up, smiling and happy. A boy who had no idea that the fate of the whole galaxy rested upon. A boy that deserved to be safe and protected and loved. And he would see that through, no matter what the cost to himself.

The two suns rose higher and higher into the sky. Ben Kenobi stopped and waited, and looked up into the blinding light. And he let everything go.